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Five Hobbies and the Best Countries to Pursue Them In

Do you want to get more active or are you just looking for a new way to spend your leisure time? That’s no problem! We’ve put together a list of easily accessible hobbies which are bound to attract your interest, complete with the best destinations to pursue them. The US Bureau of Labor estimates that we spend on average five hours a day enjoying leisure activities, so why not get out there and try out a brand-new hobby?

Try Stand-Up Paddle Boarding in Spain

Originating in Hawaii, stand-up paddle boarding is one of the most accessible water sports, suitable for all levels from complete novice to expert. It also isn’t restricted to open waters; the activity can easily be practiced on lakes or water reserves. If extreme water sports aren’t your thing, stand-up paddling could provide an excellent alternative as it does not require high fitness levels and is versatile in the way that it can be practiced in both shallow and deep waters, perfect for all watersport fans.

Spain is an outstanding location to pursue stand-up paddle boarding as not only does it offer endless stretches of attractive coastline, it has a climate perfect for watersports. A staggering 92% of expats like the Spanish climate, with one Chilean expat sharing “the weather and the sea” as some of the best things about living in Spain.

Ranking 1st out of 53 countries in the Leisure Options Subcategory of the 2023 Expat Insider survey, there’s no doubt that Spain provides excellent opportunities for enjoying yourself. In fact, 91% of all expats in Spain are happy with the opportunities for recreational sports. This is the highest figure worldwide in this respect!

Danzón Taking Mexico by Storm

With its roots in Cuban culture, Danzón has been around for centuries and is still very popular in both Mexico and Puerto Rico. The dance even became so big in Mexico that it received its own movie (Danzón, 1991)!

Mexico City is an excellent location to turn your dreams about perfecting the Danzón into a reality. Northwest of the city lies Plaza de Danzón, where couples crowed the plaza to show off their skills (and you might get a lesson).

However, Danzón is not just limited to Mexico City, but is widely available throughout Mexico — as are a range of other popular Latin American dances. So there really is no excuse to not explore the Mexican dance culture!

Coming in second place in terms of Leisure Options, Mexico indeed has a lot to offer. Over four in five expats (83%) for example rate the culture and nightlife positively. It may well be time to put on your dancing shoes and dance the night away, with a few margaritas to boot.

“Zip” Your Way Through Costa Rica’s Rainforests

The idea of ziplining through the rainforests actually came from biologists in Costa Rica in the 1970s, who wanted a way of exploring the rainforests without disrupting the ecosystems. Today, this activity is popular with both tourists and adrenaline junkies worldwide.

Costa Rica boasts endless rainforests with tour companies offering packages for explorers of all levels and abilities. If a zipline isn’t your thing, most companies will also offer aerial trams which still give you the opportunity to see the beauty of the rainforest from above but with added comfort and security.

The modern-day paradise that is Costa Rica is always a favorite among our members. Ranking in 7th place overall in 2023, a staggering 97% of expats there are happy with the natural environment on offer.

Over nine in ten expats in Costa Rica (92%) like the weather and the climate, making it a perfect location for outdoor activities. “Nature surrounds you and wildlife accompanies you. Not to mention the beautiful plants and flowers, waterfalls, volcanos and beaches!” as a Venezuelan expat points out. So why not try out that zipline for some exploring?

A New Version of Football in Portugal

The birthplace of global superstar Cristiano Ronaldo and winners of the European Championship in 2016, Portugal is certainly a country engraved with football culture — but it’s also home to football’s younger brother, futsal.

With origins in South America, futsal was first developed by combining some of football’s rules with a basketball-style hard court. Teams typically consist of five players and the ball used is smaller than a normal football. The sport now attracts millions of players around the world, and offers international competitions hosted in various locations worldwide. Portugal — the reigning champion of both the FIFA Futsal World Cup and the UEFA Futsal Championship — offers great possibilities to practice futsal, with arenas all around the country.

When it comes to the availability of recreational sporting opportunities, Portugal is definitely a hit with expats. Over four in five (85%) are satisfied with this factor. And as one US American expat points out, “the fact that I’m able to maintain a good work-life balance and enjoy myself on a day-to-day basis” isone of the best things about Portugal.

Dive to Discover an Untouched Paradise in Australia

Known for its golden beaches, extensive wildlife, and laid-back lifestyle, Australia is a worldwide favorite travel destination. According to our Expat Insider survey, it appears to also be an excellent destination for taking up a new hobby, too. Around nine in ten respondents (87%) praise the available sporting opportunities, placing Australia 3rd worldwide for this factor.

The history of scuba diving as a sport is linked to the development of scuba equipment, which was pioneered in the 20th century. Scuba diving was first mainly used by biologists looking for new species below sea level. Nowadays, it is a popular leisure activity all over the world.

Australia — boasting the world’s largest coral reef system, The Great Barrier Reef — is one of the prime diving destinations. This location offers 2,000 kilometers of underwater paradise combined with the opportunity to dive with magnificent creatures such as clown fish, turtles, manta rays, and much more. Or if you head further south, you can even dive with great white sharks (not for the faint-hearted!).

Flippers for moving around underwater, scuba tanks for breathing, and diving masks are standard equipment for any scuba diver. Lessons and courses are provided worldwide including in Australia. Although it will take time and skill to master, scuba diving is a truly unique hobby as it allows you to explore parts of the world previously inaccessible for humans.

And if diving up to 20 meters below sea level sounds too daunting for you, snorkeling is the considerably less challenging alternative. With Australia’s beaches offering a wide array of flora and fauna even in the shallow waters, there really is something for everyone here.

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